As part of our wider Sustainability Strategy, and in order to reduce the environmental impact of participant travel for the PEI 2023 Canada Winter Games, the Canada Games purchased 2,237 tonnes of carbon offsets from Ostrom Climate’s Great Bear Forest Carbon Project. Because of these offsets, the Canada Games Council (CGC) earned a Climate Friendly Flights designation for the 2023 Games.
Participant travel to the 2023 Canada Winter Games, including the purchase of carbon offsets, has been made possible through a contribution from the Government of Canada.
The Great Bear Rainforest is considered a global ecological treasure with great value to local First Nations and, as a coastal temperate rainforest, one of the rarest ecosystems on Earth. By supporting the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project, the Canada Games have contributed to an Improved Forest Management initiative, which generates emission reductions by protecting forest areas that were previously designated, sanctioned, or approved for commercial logging.
For more information on The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project, please see the video below:
Before purchasing carbon offsets, it is essential to consider the following key principles to ensure their credibility and effectiveness:
- Additionality: Ensure that the offset project leads to emissions reductions that would not have occurred in the absence of the project. This principle ensures that the offsets are genuinely contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Permanence: Assess the long-term permanence of the offset project. It is crucial to ensure that the emissions reductions achieved through the project will be sustained over time and not reversed in the future.
- Verifiability: Verify that the emissions reductions claimed by the offset project are accurately measured, independently verified, and transparently reported. Robust verification processes provide confidence in the credibility of the offsets.
- Credible Standards and Certification: Look for offsets that are certified by recognized standards and programs such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard, or Climate Action Reserve. These standards ensure that the offsets meet rigorous criteria and adhere to best practices.
- Additionality Integrity: Assess the integrity of the additionality claim of the offset project. This includes evaluating whether the project's emissions reductions are genuinely additional to the baseline scenario and whether they are accurately quantified and verified.
- Co-benefits: Consider the broader environmental and social co-benefits of the offset project. For example, projects that contribute to biodiversity conservation, support local communities, or promote sustainable development are preferable as they deliver additional positive impacts beyond emissions reductions.
- Transparency and Traceability: Look for offsets that provide clear and transparent information about the project location, type, and methodology used. Transparency enables stakeholders to assess the integrity and impact of the offset project.
- Avoidance of Double Counting: Ensure that the offsets are not double-counted or claimed by multiple entities. The offsets should be retired or canceled to prevent their re-use or double-counting, thereby maintaining the integrity of emission accounting.
- Long-term Commitment: Seek offsets from projects that have a long-term commitment and sustainable financing to ensure their ongoing operation and maintenance. Long-term commitment demonstrates the project's ability to deliver consistent emissions reductions over time.
- Consultation and Engagement: Consider offsets that involve consultation and engagement, particularly projects that have engaged local communities, Indigenous groups, and other affected parties. This ensures that the offset project respects local rights and priorities.
By considering these key principles, organizations like the CGC can make informed decisions and select high-quality carbon offsets that genuinely contribute to global emission reductions and support sustainable development goals.
Offsets have the potential to contribute positively to the goal of reducing GHG emissions associated with participant travel in sports. They can help organizations achieve carbon neutrality and support renewable energy and conservation projects. However, offsetting should not replace efforts to reduce emissions at the source, and organizations must address concerns related to greenwashing and additionality.
Striking a balance between offsetting and implementing sustainable travel alternatives is crucial for a comprehensive and impactful sustainability strategy in sports. By critically evaluating the pros and cons of offsets, sports organizations can make informed decisions to drive positive change and advance sustainability goals within the industry.